Eight Counts Ballet Company aims to foster inclusive ballet community through open-access classes


Photo courtesy of Angel Jordan

Amanda de la Fuente is company manager of Eight Counts Ballet Company, which is a new dance group that seeks to provide all students with a welcoming ballet community.

Jamie Kim, Reporter

Communication sophomore Amanda de la Fuente started her dancing journey at age 5. Over a decade later, she came to Northwestern for her freshman year and wanted to participate in theater and dance at the same time, but couldn’t find a ballet-centric club. 

Soon after, de la Fuente and Medill sophomore Angel Jordan began working together to form their own club.

Eight Counts Ballet Company aims to create a little “corner of the ballet world” where anyone can learn ballet and have fun dancing, de la Fuente said.

As company manager of the dance group, de la Fuente organizes logistics and serves as a mental health resource for dancers. 

The pair combined efforts with Weinberg junior Elliana Teuscher and Medill junior Natalie Wu, a former Daily staffer, who were in the process of creating another group, to found Eight Counts Ballet Company. 

This will be Eight Counts’ first full academic year since its creation in 2021. The club has evolved since its founding, starting to host regular classes in the spring and establishing plans for new shows. After a year of running what felt like an “independent project,” de la Fuente said she is excited the ballet company is opening a Student Organizations and Activities account and is up and running. 

As the artistic director and co-founder of the company, Teuscher plays an administrative role and helps with advertising and recruitment. She also teaches classes. 

In high school, Teuscher trained full-time at the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. During the pandemic, she decided to attend college classes instead and dance recreationally. While it is possible to take dance classes at NU, Teuscher couldn’t find a ballet club. 

Eight Counts offers classes for beginners and those with varying levels of ballet experience every Saturday in the Wirtz Ballroom. Classes are open to anyone, Teuscher said.

In addition to gig performances like Rock the Lake and the UNITY Charity Fashion Show intermission, de la Fuente said Eight Counts is aiming for two shows — one in the winter and one in the spring. 

Weinberg junior Stephanie Shields has known Teuscher and Wu since starting at NU. When she heard they were starting a ballet company, she was excited to get involved. 

Shields had no dance experience prior to taking Eight Counts classes and said she had “no idea what to expect.” She said the class was very welcoming and found it interesting to learn different forms of ballet from new instructors.

“It’s much more accessible and approachable for a brand new student like me,” Shields said. 

Although her body was not used to the movements of ballet or the jumps, stretches and coordination required, Shields said the instructors were able to break down terms and the movements into small adjustments she could control. 

Teuscher said she wanted to give the opportunity of ballet dancing to “many generations” of future NU students. Several students who had never danced before participated last year. Others had lots of experience.

“We’re excited to welcome the freshman class into our club and hope that we can reach more people who haven’t had experience and introduce them to ballet,” Teuscher said. 

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